By Samantha Johnson
Speeding within Bow Island has been a topic at the regular Town Council meetings for several sessions.
While speeding seems to be the of greatest concern, due to the large number of small children living in town, there are other issues, such as vandalism, excessive littering and stunting that are also being brought to the attention of Council.
Between January and April this year, the RCMP have received only one compliant regarding vehicles racing within Bow Island.
“We get occasional complaints for speeding/drag racing within the town of Bow Island, but highway complaints more frequent,” ackowledged Cst. Josée Quirke of the Bow Island RCMP. “We are encouraging drivers to obey speed limits and the rules of the road and are in the community looking for those violations.”
Both the RCMP and Community Peace Officer Jason Schreiber are actively enforcing.
From the beginning of January to the end of April this year, amongst the Traffic Unit Bow Island RCMP members, 120 violation tickets were issued. This is within their entire jurisdiction, which covers a lengthy portion of Highway 3, Bow Island, Foremost, and a portion of the County of 40-Mile. The tickets issued are not only for speeding, but for other violations as well, including dangerous driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and distracted driving.
All such violations fall under the Traffic Safety Act (TSA), an extensive document of 197 pages that has 216 sections. Section 115 deals with the prohibited operation of vehicles and spans six pages. There are five subsections under section 115 that covers, in addition to speeding and dangerous driving, the use of phones and electronic devices, GPS, reading, writing, sketching, and personal grooming while driving.
Under the TSA, Section 115, “violation tickets for things such as drag racing could cost you up to $567 (as well as demerits), especially when you are putting others on the road in danger,” explained Quirke. There are a few categories a ticket could fall under, such as careless driving or stunting, which is anything that distracts, startles, or interferes with the highway.
Schreiber finished his training and received his appointment for traffic enforcement in August of 2021. However, he didn’t begin enforcing until February of this year. This was because they were waiting to get his patrol vehicle set up and ready to go with the equipment required for e-ticketing. Unfortunately, while Schreiber can use e-ticketing for bylaw enforcement, it is still not available for traffic enforcement.
At a conference Schreiber attended during the week of May 2nd, he learned that the Solicitor General’s office is working with the Alberta Government to achieve some common ground on e-ticketing. Part of the problem was the frustration of the public with the short appeal process. There were instances of individuals receiving a photo radar ticket in the mail after the appeal date had passed. Thus, they had to pay a non-refundable processing fee plus the ticket that they couldn’t fight.
“It’s been frustrating at times. If I am doing my patrols on one side of town, there are times I can hear something going on, possibly stunting, but by the time I get over there they are gone,” Schreiber pointed out.
With a Genesis 2 radar system set up in his patrol vehicle, Schreiber has been proactively sitting in playground zones and different areas where speeding is a concern. “I haven’t had as many speeders that have been pulled over and ticketed because the public is generally getting accepting of slowing down when they see me, my presence there alone has made a difference and I’ve had residents approach to thank me for parking there.”
When Schreiber receives complaints, they are usually the day following the incident. Unfortunately, the information is usually scarce or nonexistent. Either the complainant didn’t see anything or can only give a generic description of the vehicle and driver.
He had a few of complaints regarding students at Senator Gershaw and attempted to be at the school at different staggered times over the lunch hour. Schreiber issued two warning to drivers who started to speed up but then saw the patrol vehicle and slowed down.
“I’ve been doing lots of proactive teachings because I think education goes a long way. The students are getting better because they understand now that I can pull them over just as easily as the RCMP and I think that is where lots of the change is happening,” said Schreiber.
Schreiber has been experimenting with his shift and has been communicating with the RCMP about having him work with one or two of their members on a Sunday.
“Typically, Sundays are days where the Town sees quite large family gatherings, resulting in a variety of concerns,” explained Schreiber. “During and following larger gatherings, there is a multitude of the younger generation who feel as though they can speed freely and race around town with little to no repercussions. It has the tendency to create large belligerent crowd gathering numbers, providing an outnumbering challenge for enforcement if one or more of the gathering members is engaged in illegal actions which require enforcement.”
Additionally, after large gatherings at public use areas, excessive garbage and waste are left behind. Schreiber has photographs of picnic areas, public use benches and other facilities where beer cans, food wrappers, sunflower seed shells, and a variety of other items have been carelessly discarded by whomever used the location.
“In some cases, glass bottles have been broken and vandalism occurs because of the Sunday gatherings,” stated Schreiber. “It can be a challenge, and many in the community are discouraged and quite frankly fed up with the shenanigans that a Sunday has to offer.”
Take notes when filing a complaint
By Samantha Johnson
The RCMP and Community Peace Officer are actively patrolling Bow Island and the surrounding communities and want to encourage community members to report complaints of speeding and drag racing within the town.
If you are going to make a complaint, it is helpful to provide the following information to the RCMP so that they can enforce based off the complaint:
• Time of day
• Frequency of the event
• Vehicle and driver description
• Dashcam footage
They also encourage to never put yourself in a dangerous position, don’t follow or get in harms way to obtain any information.